Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Essentials- "Blade Runner"

The Essentials

Blade Runner

So, I am probably going to sound like a bad movie fan, but up until tonight, I had never seen “Blade Runner.” I know, I know but before you cast your stones, always remember that even in a good year I don’t see everything I want to. There are still several classic movies that I still need to see, movies that resonate so profoundly and powerfully with movie geeks everywhere that I still need to check out. I get to those films when I can get to them, that’s all I can do.

I have been very excited about “Blade Runner 2049,” despite not seeing the first film. I am a big fan of Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, and of course, Harrison Ford. I love good science fiction. I love a good neo-noir. But I felt I needed to see the first film to really appreciate the sequel, even though I have heard that seeing the first film is not required to see “Blade Runner 2049,” but I couldn’t do that. I wanted and needed to see the first “Blade Runner.” As sad as this may sound, I have had it sitting on my DVD shelf for over a year! Now was the time to pop it in, and watch it play out. But I knew that might be harder than I thought, since there are eight versions of the movie running around in the world.

Yep, you read that right. Eight versions.

I finally settled on watching the “Final Cut” of “Blade Runner.” Much to no surprise of fans of the film, “Blade Runner” played like a dream for me. Even though the film was released in 1982, the visions of the future in this film have a strange, haunted beauty to them. It almost feels like a gothic horror movie wrapped in a vaguely modern science fiction landscape. Back in the 1980’s, and even before the 1980’s, the looks of dystopian futures were always high-concept, always a little exaggerated, and always interesting to look at, especially if a production didn’t have lots of money. In “Blade Runner,” the look of the clothing, the look of the culture, the hardware used, the vehicles used in this future, even the way people call each other on the phone is just fascinating to look at. I’d love to see a documentary about this futuristic world and how everything works.

If you are uncool like me, then know that the story of “Blade Runner” is a simple one. In the year 2019 (so two years from now, get ready!) corporations began to invent and distribute humanistic robots known as Replicants. The Replicants were strictly used only to perform manual labor on human colonies on various planets across the universe. The Replicants were extra strong and extra fast, but if they got onto Earth for any reason, they would be destroyed. When this movie begins, a renegade group of Replicants are hiding on Earth. A special type of Replicant-hunting cop called a Blade Runner are responsible for destroying the Replicants, and Deckard (Harrison Ford) takes one last job to catch and kill the renegades.

So, it’s a pretty simple story, but its elevated to the highest known peak. That is thanks to the splendid acting work done by Harrison Ford. This was off the heels of “Star Wars,” “Empire Strikes Back” and “Indiana Jones” so Ford was already becoming a big star. The film was really trying to sell itself on the power of Harrison Ford, and I think he delivered another great performance. A near perfect blend of movie star charisma with some raw, shadowed acting work. Sadly, when “Blade Runner” was originally released, it pretty much bombed at the box office, and became a cult classic later. I highly doubt that had anything to do with Harrison Ford, but I bet general audiences were found lots of the movie weird.

I can understand why somebody would think “Blade Runner” is a weird movie. There are lots of strange characters in the movie, the look of the future is one of the most detailed worlds ever committed to film, but there is a dark undertone to the designs of this world. “Blade Runner” also just didn’t work like a regular blockbuster. Well, not all the way that is. Harrison Ford’s character is named Deckard, and while on his mission to kill the renegade Replicants, he falls in love with a Replicant himself. Racheal, played by Sen Young, is an advanced Replicant who believes she is human. Deckard’s relationship with Racheal grows throughout the film, and she forces Deckard to question his mission entirely. How does he know he's really killing Replicants if they are so convinced they are human? How many humans has he killed in his career, if any? There are mere glimpses of a budding romance, but only glimpses. Perhaps I oversold their relationship a little too much, and for that I apologize. But it’s evident that Deckard is a bit challenged by the invention and presents of Rachael, and it adds an extra layer to the movie.

The renegade Replicants are all cool, interesting foils to Deckard. The ring leader of the group is Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer. Hauer is one of those reliable actors who specializes in playing great villains. All his career, he can turn in one immoral son-of-a-bitch after another. Roy Batty is a crazy, deranged, intelligent and creative character. There is an intense feeling in his eyes, that can really creep you out if you stare into them for too long. There is a monstrous veracity to his character, and while its terrifying, it is also absorbing. The final good-guy-versus-bad-guy showdown doesn’t work like many other films. There is usually a crazy fight only for the hero to win. Here, Deckard struggles quite a bit. He isn’t the typical hero that we find in these types of movies. He nearly dies, in fact, there are many moments in the final fight where we believe he will die. But he is saved by none other than Roy Batty. I have contemplating over this scene all night, and I may have to watch the movie again soon to see if there were clues and beats that I missed the first time.

There is also some business that Deckard may be a Replicant. It’s been debated and digested for over a generation now. After one first viewing, I do kind of have a feeling that Deckard might be a Replicant. I hope that we get some sort of conclusion to this mystery in the new film in the next couple of days. I think there is plenty of evidence that could point both ways, and I think perhaps another viewing of this may benefit me in my final prediction. But I am really hoping this gets resolved in the next film.

Overall, I loved the movie. I am incredibly happy that I saw the movie. I think the movie does a good job jogging around our imaginations, while also giving us all sorts of things to discuss and play with after you done watching it. I am now, more than ever, hoping for big things this weekend, and I hope I can get to the theater sometime this week to see it!

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